Advice, please, re: caring for elderly parents


My situation is a little tricky. My husband and I are separated, so I am living at my folks’ house and my child is attending school here so I can’t move for a couple of years because I could not afford a place nearby and disrupting education again would be difficult.

My parents are currently able to live on their own as long as nothing happens. If Dad gets sick, they absolutely need help as my mother’s health makes her unable to care for him. But if Mom gets sick, he doesn’t really know what to do, so he needs help as well.

And of course, this situation will not improve.

So, in the past 8 months, there have been two hospitalizations and two non-hospitalized sickness between them, as well as my child’s having been very sick, along the lines of a serious but not hospitalized flu.

My siblings live really far away, so their ability to help is limited.

Now the help I need.

When I came here, the idea was for me to get a regular job with benefits, etc. However, I was a SAHM for 20+ years and my previous line of work has been overtaken by the internet. Plus, I have no professional contacts here at all. Competition is fierce and everyone is much more educated than I because there are a lot of great universities here.

So I have been working nights at a restaurant, which so started doing because then my days would have been available for job interviews, etc., but were often taken up by filling in the gaps for my family.g

This has made me feel worried about getting a day job. I absolutely would not have been able to both keep a job and take care of my family this year.

Also, I never did get any responses from sending out resumes so I feel like getting that type of job is a bit of a non-starter. And it’s really depressing me to have to re-write my resume individually for each job I apply for, as well as half the time re-write everything into their forms, only to hear nothing back. Even temp agencies didn’t respond :frowning:

I would have problems looking for a job anyway, but the issue of my parents is making it much worse. Because as their situation worsens, my feelings will be torn and plus my mother seems to think a job, while good for getting me out of the house, is just more like a hobby that I can ask time off from whenever she does want me to be around. (I am not my mother’s favorite.)

So, I could just kind of not do what the original plan was, and continue with the restaurant and possibly work into doing freelance work

And I am just not sure what to do, which is why if anyone has experience with this and could give me some advice, I would really appreciate it :slight_smile: Sorry this is so long, I couldn’t figure out what to cut.



I can sympathize with your situation. My mother was in overall good health but had a few times where she needed help for a while (following a broken ankle and knee replacement surgery, for example). I lived about 100 miles away – too far to be there all the time but close enough to be able to go on weekends. Fortunately she had the resources to be able to hire an aide to help her during the week and then I would come on the weekends. Maybe not perfect, but we made it work.

You don’t say anything about your parents’ finances. If you were working full time, could they afford the help they would need? Or could your siblings help out?

If they can, you can continue looking for a day job. If they can’t, you’ll need to decide what your priorities are and what other resources may be available. It’s a balancing act and there’s no perfect solution.


You seem to be qualified to do home health care. Have you thought about nursing school?


You make some good points. I know that there may come a time when they need a lot more help, but right now when they need help, it’s small things at intervals.

So Mom might need to have something moved for her once every hour or so, for a week when Dad is sick. Or Mom might need to have someone in the house for a couple of weeks and then it is convenient to have someone else so Dad can go out (doctors visits, exercise). The rest of the time, they don’t need help.

So it’s very easy for someone who is already here to do what is necessary, but to hire someone to do this, for the temporary periods they need it, seems like too much.

OTOH, that level of help may be a silly amount for me to revolve my life around, right?

But it was very convenient for everyone that I was working nights and thus available during the day to do this, while my child was here evenings to do the rest.

There aren’t a lot of businesses close by, but if I worked nearby, then I could run home on my lunch hour when necessary.

Thanks so much, you really clarified some of these issues for me :slight_smile:


Not nursing, you have to learn too much stuff that I am really bad at!

And where I am, I am not qualified to do home health care; I’d have to take a short but expensive course.

But that is a good idea, thank you :slight_smile:


I’m just curious about your husband -
What does he say -
Does he contribute financially ?
Is there hope - of reconciliation?

How old are your parents, respectfully ?

Do you go to a Catholic Church - and how often…


Husband is not around and not interested in being around or even meeting obligations.

My parents are in their mid-eighties.

I go to Mass on Sundays and occasionally during the week, but due to my work schedule, I end up at different Masses at different places.

I really am Catholic and my faith has kept me as together as I am. Without it, shew! I think I would be in a psych ward!

I look at this past year and think God has really taken good care of me. I have enough work to not have to ask my parents for money, as they are already doing so much for me, and I was in a good position to help them this year.

I get a lot of pressure to get a regular job, tho, and I want to be doing something that will work out long-term. I am old enough now that I have to consider what my physical capacity will be in 10 or 15 years, iyswim. And restaurant work is not on my list, much as I actually like my job!


I’m sorry - and shocked - by your husband, quite frankly.
I hope it wasn’t anything too serious that broke things up.

How old is your child - ?

“I am not my mother’s favorite” - made me smile.
I’m sure the pressure you feel from them - is encouragement from them…
I’m sorry that they are failing in health - too.
I hope your child somehow how cheers them -


Speaking as one who has been through the parent-caregiver thing, it’s extremely hard to do any sort of caregiving while you are working a job that expects you to be there for set hours. The only way I managed it was that I had a job where you could work remotely from anyplace with Internet access and many people in my workforce do that; also my boss was literally on another continent and did not expect “face time”.
Even with that, it is a huge distraction from work to have an elderly parent constantly wanting your presence, both for necessary things like a meal and non-necessary things like they just wanted somebody to talk to for an hour and they don’t understand you need to work. Fortunately, my mother would take a number of naps during the day so I could get work done while she was asleep.

I don’t think you’re going to be able to get yourself back into the workplace and simultaneously deal with all your caregiver responsibilities right now. If you moved out so as not to be so “available” for your parents, then you would have to deal with finding child care.

I would also caution you that taking care of three people is going to be really difficult even if you continue being a SAHM. You will probably have to hire some caregivers at least part time to help with your parents’ care.

I’m sorry all these challenges have come down on you at once, but employers are going to need you to be giving the job priority, especially as someone re-entering the work force as opposed to someone who’s been in the same job for years and all of a sudden had some family situation come up to work around.

I feel for you. One of the caregivers I hired for my mom was actually trying to care for a husband with Alzheimers and a disabled adult child as well as work her caregiver job. It was really an untenable situation.


Regarding employment, it seems like you have two paths. The path you had planned on taking 20 years ago doesn’t seem to be a viable option at this moment-- you said your line of work had been taken over by the internet, plus you’re competing with a glut of fresh grads. I remember once when I was feeling depressed because I was “the most overeducated secretary” working for my municipality, and that I had worked so hard for my degree, but all I was allowed to do was make coffee and run the copy machine. (I had gotten my MLS, and had used tuition reimbursement to pay for it, so I couldn’t leave the city for 2 years or else be penalized for doing so, but the library was on a hiring freeze and couldn’t take me on.) He said, “Sometimes, you just have to make coffee when you have to make coffee.” And that made me feel enormously better, because I was able to view my situation as Circumstances, not as a reflection of my Capacity.

So, I’d look at your restaurant job. Is it something that’s flexible enough for you to take care of people during the day, get enough sleep, and work at night? Does it pay you sufficient for you to make ends meet, and put a bit in savings? If so, keep it. You’re trading doing what you want to do in order to gain flexibility of schedule and the ability to be a caregiver.

If it’s good, but your restaurant doesn’t pay sufficient to make ends meet, think about upgrading to a better tier restaurant. My brother used to be a bartender, before he went out and got a job with benefits and retirement and vacation and all that… and he still doesn’t come close to what he earned as a bartender.

If you really want to leave the restaurant biz, because you know your body won’t be able to handle it in the future, even though you like it now, you need to sit down and figure out where you want to run to, rather than just running away from being a waitress.

Around here, a CNA course takes about four weeks of classwork and two weeks in a clinical setting, like a local nursing home. A few take as long as three months, depending on your state. But it’s generally designed as the next step up from do-you-want-fries-with-that for high school graduates or people with a GED, so it’s entry-level, not as rigorous as, like, an RN. But the plus side is that it gives you marketable skills you can take anywhere— and give you knowledge and experience to be more informed in your parents’ care.

One of the other rules of thumb I heard was that good money is to be had wherever the baby boomers are. Back in the 80’s, it was things like elaborate vacations and golf courses and recreational things, because they were in their retirement years. But now, they’re aging… so it’s a good place for a competent person; it’s something that won’t get hired out to India or the internet; and it’s something that has a practical component right in your own back yard.


Yeah, I was not thrilled to find out his true priorities. Not saying I was perfect or anything, but…

Luckily my child is actually a teenager, so can be helpful instead of needing quite the amount of care a little one needs–I put that badly above :o

I think my teen does cheer them–they really love my children :smiley:

Thanks so much for your moral support!


Is there anybody else who could move in to the home if you got a day job, perhaps somebody with a few health problems but nothing too serious who is also looking for some companionship? My solution would be to add a person who is somewhat disabled through age or mental capacity.


What caught my eye - with your scenario - and delighted me -
is that your looking for God - for possible hints of direction - from this forum !
I do believe God talks to us through other :innocent: sometimes.
You do sound upbeat - and that your on the right track !

Keep God first !
Keep family a close second !


I don’t know where you are, but in California we have IHSS (In Home Supportive Services) that certain people qualify for. A person comes in, does the cooking, bathing & light housework, etc for the disabled/elderly person. I’m my mom’s IHSS worker.


I’d consider a Continuous Care home situation for parents in their mid-80s. It is best to have that conversation and see if they are willing before this age–people can go down hill very rapidly, and one fall or injury can spiral. Have you talked to them about this, or have you visited a facility? At least in my area there are some very, very nice ones. At retirement I’m going to put myself on the list.


In many parts of the US there are Area Agencies on Aging.

Here is one random Texas:

They will help with basic care, taking someone to the doctor, it is worth getting set up with them now.


Luckily my child is a teen, but I can’t afford rent a for two anyway, even if I got an office job!

Your comment about trying to get into the workforce at the same time my parents have this periods of need was really helpful. I am going to work on a plan that I hope will be able to balance all this out. Thank you !


That is certainly a good idea! Thank you!


My mother has indirectly said they have a plan, but neither of my parents is telling any of us anything.

My daughter and already had a conversation about what to do if I get Alzheimer’s. I was very clear they should put me in a facility because I have seen families deal with incredible guilt about taking that route, until their parent becomes violent. Very sad :frowning:

(Luckily we don’t seem to have had serious cognitive decline in my family.)


Ah, this looks like a really good resource. There will probably be someone there who can discuss a lot of the issues as well as clarify how the various programs work. Thank you :slight_smile:

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